Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker


by Rumbold
4th May, 2011 at 7:01 pm    

This case from America was truly shocking. A high school cheerleader has lost a court case against her school and will have to pay the school $45,000 (£27,300) in compensation.

What was worst was not the case itself, but how it came about. The unnamed cheerleader (‘HS’) was sexually assaulted by Rakheem Bolton, an athlete at her school. He pleaded guilty to the assault, but the charge of rape against him was dropped, so he was allowed back onto the basketball team (because being convicted of sexual assault isn’t a bar to representing a school it seems).

In a subsequent game, ‘HS’ refused to cheer her attacker when his name was mentioned, which prompted her expulsion from the cheerleading squad. The school deserves plenty of criticism for this, but so do the courts, especially given the way in which they dismissed her appeal by branding it “frivolous”. Whatever the merits of awarding ‘HS’ compensation, the anger of a sexual assault victim at being punished for failing to cheer her attacker is not some ‘frivolous’ gesture. The court said:

“As a cheerleader, HS served as a mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams,” the appeals court decision says. “This act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, HS was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.”

So the school wasn’t at fault for allowing a sex attacker to represent them, rather it was the victim for trying to rebuild her life by taking part in something which mattered to her? Disgraceful.


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Filed in: Sex equality,United States






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  1. adamgrace3

    “@sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://t.co/L6F6AuT” <~ Crazy.


  2. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx


  3. Ryan D

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx


  4. Sinead Smith

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx


  5. Andy

    America – Land of the Free. Or not. http://amplify.com/u/a11elv


  6. WNH

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx


  7. Peter Savage

    Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx


  8. Greg Sheppard

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx


  9. Itsmotherswork

    “@sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://t.co/8wcGmRF”
    Good grief!


  10. Adam

    “@sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://t.co/L6F6AuT” <~ Crazy.


  11. Geoff White

    Did you hear the one about the cheerleader who refused to cheer her rapist? She was made to pay $45,000 damages. http://bit.ly/l3zmG1


  12. Jolene Galbreath

    RT @itsmotherswork: “@sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://t.co/8wcGmRF”
    Goo …


  13. Nick H.

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx


  14. john

    Pickled Politics » Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker: http://bit.ly/kL6mfZ jesus fucking christ


  15. Dulcie Fairhurst

    RT @sunny_hundal Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx <– Just as USA busy patting its back


  16. I'malrightjack

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx


  17. Nikki Jayne Guest

    RT @sunny_hundal: Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx


  18. Rita Banerji

    RT @sunny_hundal: Cheerleader in U.S. school forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer her #rapist http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx


  19. Rita Banerji

    RT @sunny_hundal: Victim forced to pay compensation for refusing to cheer attacker http://bit.ly/jPM0Kx




  1. Kismet Hardy — on 5th May, 2011 at 11:01 am  

    Sometimes I think all women live in the third world

  2. Rob — on 5th May, 2011 at 1:37 pm  

    This is bizarre. It seems like the whole problem stems from the school’s decision to allow Bolton back on the basketball team – once they had done that, some kind of conflict was inevitable.

    Unfortunately for HS, I think she was fighting the wrong case – she took the school to court on the basis that as a cheerleader she had a right to decide who she cheered for, which is a pretty weak case. The money she now owes seems to be the legal fees for losing this argument.

    A stronger argument would surely have been that Bolton’s presence on the team caused her emotional distress, making her unable to perform her duties (rather than unwilling). The debate should not have been around whether or not HS has a right to be on the cheerleading team whilst also picking and choosing when she cheers – a framing which makes her look at fault – but should have been about whether Bolton had a right to be on the team given his conviction for assault of a colleague.

  3. Scooby — on 5th May, 2011 at 6:59 pm  

    So the school wasn’t at fault for allowing a sex attacker to represent them

    He isn’t a “sex attacker”, didn’t you read your own cited article?

    The school deserves plenty of criticism for this, but so do the courts, especially given the way in which they dismissed her appeal by branding it “frivolous”.

    Filing a lawsuit because a teacher told you, a child, to do something you didn’t want to do is pretty much the definition of “frivolous”.

    Anyway, question: if cheerleading for a school team is so painful for this girl, why not just leave the cheerleading team? Again, the plaintiff’s refusal to pursue a simple remedy for her complaint would reinforce the court’s idea that she is being frivolous.

    Finally, how much money — from the education budget of all the children in the school — has been diverted to defending this frivolous lawsuit? Quite a lot, I would imagine, perhaps enough to impose severe hardship on the school. That’s why compensation was sought, I would think.

  4. Kismet Hardy — on 5th May, 2011 at 7:21 pm  

    “if cheerleading for a school team is so painful for this girl, why not just leave the cheerleading team?”

    That’s not fair. She likes cheerleading. Why should she have had to give up something she enjoyed doing because of one prick?

    That’s like saying: getting sexually harassed at work? Shut up and give up your job you dizzy mare

  5. Rumbold — on 5th May, 2011 at 8:55 pm  

    Well said Kismet.

    Scooby:

    He isn’t a “sex attacker”, didn’t you read your own cited article?

    I did. The charge of rape was dropped, but he was convicted of a lesser offence. Given that she accused him of sexually assaulting her, the terminology wasn’t incorrect. Moreover, even if the assault wasn’t sexual in nature, someone still shouldn’t be allowed back onto a sports team after that.

    Filing a lawsuit because a teacher told you, a child, to do something you didn’t want to do is pretty much the definition of “frivolous”.

    Yes, because being made to cheer your attacker is the same as being forced to do Maths homework.

  6. Scooby — on 5th May, 2011 at 11:24 pm  

    Rumbold, you claimed he was convicted of sexual assault. Let’s just be clear – you are now retracting that false claim, correct?

    FYI sexual assault is a specific charge and not the same as misdeamenour assault (or common assault as it would be termed in the UK)

    Now, tell me how many teachers should be sacked from this school to help pay for this girl’s legal challenge? How much time should be spent by the courts deciding whether this girl should be able to cheerlead silently or not?

  7. douglas clark — on 6th May, 2011 at 4:01 am  

    Scooby @ 6,

    It is pretty obvious that Rumbold isn’t withdrawing that.

    Neither should he.

    How much time should be spent by the courts deciding whether this girl should be able to cheerlead silently or not?

    All the time in all the world sunbeam. You are just wrong, and idiotic to boot.

    You really haven’t got an irony beam in your brain, have you – Scooby?

  8. Rita Banerji — on 6th May, 2011 at 5:42 am  

    There is so much money and publicity in varsity sports in the U.S. Many of the students — specially so at college and university levels get scholarships to play, and for the school that is what the investment is! I had students in my class who use to flunk! They’d go to the chair, who’d give them passing grades, and they’d come back and wave their exam books at me gleefully!!!

  9. Rumbold — on 6th May, 2011 at 8:27 am  

    Scooby:

    It is not a false claim. The conviction can refer to a number of offences, but given she accused him of sexually assaulting her, and he was convicted, there is a clear connection.

    Now, tell me how many teachers should be sacked from this school to help pay for this girl’s legal challenge? How much time should be spent by the courts deciding whether this girl should be able to cheerlead silently or not?

    I don’t think a compensation case was the best direction (instead, the focus should have been on disciplining the teachers involved).

    Rita:

    You paint a sad picture. I am glad that doesn’t happen in the UK.

  10. earwicga — on 6th May, 2011 at 4:58 pm  

    Or why don’t you just back track a little Scooby. Imagine a school which is sympathetic to victims of assault. NONE of this should of happened. The school perhaps couldn’t of stopped the attack, but they should of chucked out the attacker.

  11. Scooby — on 6th May, 2011 at 8:40 pm  

    It is not a false claim.

    Yes it is.

    The conviction can refer to a number of offences, but given she accused him of sexually assaulting her, and he was convicted, there is a clear connection.

    Totally untrue and contradicted by a simple Googling:

    The 19-year-old was a football star at Silsbee High School. He was indicted for sexual assault following an October, 2008 off campus party. Bolton pleaded Tuesday to the lesser charge of Class A Assault… If [Rakheem] Bolton had been convicted of sexual assault, a 2nd Degree Felony, he could have received up to 20 years in prison.

    (here

    There is so much money and publicity in varsity sports…

    Rita, other than a further gratuitous thwack at Amercians and their way of life, your comment is a complete non sequitor. Thanks.

    instead, the focus should have been on disciplining the teachers involved

    Don’t be daft. The teachers have done nothing wrong. If this girl didn’t want to cheerlead Rakheem Bolton she should just have taken up some other school activity.

    The school perhaps couldn’t of stopped the attack, but they should of chucked out the attacker.

    Funny, young black man on the sharp end of the legal system usually get more sympathy. Typically, upon confessing their crimes and accepting the court’s punishment, they are seen as meriting a second chance, especially if they show a promising talent. I guess the temptation to bash the Yanks is too strong in these parts, especially given their recent “triumphalism” which has irritated their detractors the world over.

  12. KJB — on 6th May, 2011 at 11:01 pm  

    This case was beyond appalling. The young woman in question refused only to ‘cheer’ her attacker (by chanting his name), and for that, the school disciplined her.

    A commenter on CIF provided some context to the case, which was confirmed by others:

    StephenMorrill

    6 May 2011 1:59PM

    Well, I have read the history of the case (from old and new accounts, not only Ms. Smith’s column here) and it looks as if two separate things have become conflated and should not have been. Briefly, the girl was allegedly raped by three boys. Two were never charged by a grand jury and one was charged and convicted and given what amounts to a slap on his wrist. In Silsbee, Texas, if you can play basketball on Friday night, you are entitled to rape all the girls you want. The local hospital did a standard “rape kit” test of the girl at the time and then that result was buried by authorities who said there was a two year backlog for doing the actual rape kit testing. I have never heard of any other jurisdiction where it takes more than two days but considering the attitude of the good folk of Silsbee, Texas, perhaps they have so many rapes they can’t get around to investigating them all until – hey – the boy has graduated and his basketball playing days are at an end anyway.

    That the best the morons running the Silsbee, Texas high school could do was punish the girl shows their own moral depravity. (When she was jeered by fellow students in the cafeteria, the school simply told her to stop going to the cafeteria. Bullying is also a big problem in schools and we in America are slowly starting to crack down on it. Just not yet in Silsbee, Texas.)

    The behavior of the school officials, the law “enforcement” officials, and of the entire community, has been atrocious. They disgust me. The girl received no justice whatever. No question about that.

    But. The other issue – the issue that the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to rule upon – was whether or not the school system has control over student activities or whether or not students may participate in school activities and also exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech even if that is contrary to the purpose of the activity. If she is on the cheerleading squad – a voluntary position – could the girl refuse to participate in the cheerleading? The answer is, and always has been in many, many such cases, no. For a variety of reasons, all tried and tested in repetitive court rulings over decades, students – in a school setting – do not have the right to do as they please whenever they please.

    I’m sure our Supreme Court justices were as appalled as we all are over this girl’s shabby treatment. But they weren’t there to rule on the rape case. They were not asked if the entire population of Silsbee, Texas were degenerate and disgusting carbuncles on the backside of humanity. No, they were asked to rule on a First Amendment case of a type they have ruled on before, and this case presented no new angles to explore. So, as they do with all such repetitive cases, they declined to hear it. The Supreme Court declines about 99 out of every 100 cases sent to it, mostly on these very grounds.

    This happened in Texas – an American state fairly notorious for its sustained marginalisation of women. I hope there will be major blowback from this, but I doubt it. When things like this happen in Iran or Saudi Arabia, people will fall over themselves to remark on it but ‘We’ are infallible, of course.

    I recommend signing the petition if you find this as appalling as I do.

  13. Arif — on 11th May, 2011 at 8:13 am  

    KJB #12 – thank you for the context. This is very kafkaesque.

    I find it difficult to understand why the key issue the student/the petition you link to seems to be focusing on is whether she has a right to refuse cheering the guy. Of course, it is not up to me to say what her priorities should be, and if the right to be on a cheerleading squad and additionally to cheerlead in her own way is the most important thing to her, I am in no position to judge.

    But as an outsider, I would expect that federal authorities should be able to review the investigation by the local authorities which seems to have been so woeful (or criminal in itself). How is it possible for the local criminal justice system to bury the rape kit test and for the local school to put the safety of students so low on their priorities? Is there no mechanism to hold them accountable for that?

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